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Full text of "In memoriam Rev. John Nicholas Norton"

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D.. 



LATE ASSOCIATE RECTOR CHRIST CHURCH, 
LOUISVILLE. 



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By the Wardens and Vestry of the Parish in Grateful 

Love to God for the Example of this, 

Hjs Faithful Servant. 



JOHN P. MORTON AND COMPANY. 

A. D. l88l. 



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"Champion of Jesus! — man of God, 
Servant of Christ, well done! 
Thy path of thorns hath now been trod, 
Thy red-cross crown is won ! 

" Champion of Jesus ! on that breast 
From whence thy fervor flow'd, 
Thou hast obtain'd eternal rest — 
The bosom of thy God ! " 

Brydges. 










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26553 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 



Introductory. 

It is well for the living to remember the virtues of the noble dead 
who have finished their earthly pilgrimage, for the memory of their good 
deeds incites those who are left behind to follow in their footsteps. 
Actuated by such feelings, the Vestry of Christ Church publish this 
brief Memorial in testimony of the great worth and exalted character 
of their late Associate Rector, the Rev. John N. Norton, D.D. 

We believe that those who, impelled by the love of Christ, have 
labored most for their fellow-men deserve the highest eulogy and praise, 
and judged by this standard, the Rev. John N. Norton stands almost 
peerless among the men of his day and generation. 

A faithful and indefatigable soldier of Christ, his whole life was 
devoted to His service, and he seemed to be the very genius and embod- 
iment of faith and charity, and the loved Minister alike of the rich and 
poor, the ignorant and the cultured. 

His daily walk, was, where distress and poverty most abounded, and 
his greatest happiness lay, in drying the tears of the afflicted and bring- 
ing them into the fold of our Blessed Redeemer. 

In his pulpit discourses he spoke to the hearts of the people, and his 
published sermons, so widely circulated, are now read by thousands, and 
have brought comfort and consolation to hundreds of Christian families. 
Take him all in all, it will be, long before we see his like again, and we do 
not believe that ever before, the city of Louisville has sustained so great 
a loss in the death of any individual citizen. 

(3) 



I 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

his residence in Frankfort, he was the Rector of Ascension Church, a Professor 
in Dr. Lloyd's school, besides being engaged for a short time at the Kentucky 
Military Institute. Dr. Norton, was a man of untiring energy, and while 
engaged in his parochial work at Frankfort, found time to establish missions at 
Georgetown, Versailles, and other points in that vicinity. Since his removal to 
Louisville he has established the Church of Our Merciful Saviour, for colored 
people, and St. Stephen's Mission in Germantown, besides assisting largely in 
the support of other missions in the city. Being a man of large means, his 
income has been almost entirely devoted to charitable purposes, and many 
poor families in this city will sadly miss the assistance he always so willingly 
gave. He was considered as eccentric, but all of his eccentricities were of a 
harmless nature, and most of them grew from his unwillingness to believe that 
some of the many applications made to him for aid were from unworthy 
persons. 

While teaching at the English School, he married Miss Sutton, of Lexing- 
ton, one of his pupils, and daughter of a prominent citizen of that place. 

His life has been a very useful one. He was universally beloved by all 
who knew him, his kindliness, affability, and benevolence making him one of 
the most agreeable of friends and the most devoted of Pastors. Probably the 
most striking trait of his character was his great liberality and benevolence 
toward the poor, and in this respect he was the ideal parish Minister. His 
deeds of unostentatious charity and of kindness to the suffering, will cause his 
name to be blessed among the down-trodden and unfortunate of this great city 
long after his mortal remains have moldered away. Acts of benevolence he 
seemed to consider his first duty as Pastor, and well did he perform that duty. 
He went out into the byways and alleys, into all the dark corners of the town, 
sought out the poor and afflicted and administered to their necessities. His 
wife is a lady of considerable wealth, so Dr. Norton threw aside all solicitude 
as to his own personal subsistence, and devoted the whole of his salary to char- 
itable and mission work, in which he was constantly assisted by his no less 
charitable helpmate. His active benevolence was really the cause of his 
death, as the fatigue and exposure he underwent in looking after the poor 
during this severe weather brought on the malady which caused his death. 

A few years ago he began a series of Friday night lectures at Christ Church, 
and soon succeeded in commanding a large attendance. On the first Sunday 
night in each month it was his custom to deliver a sermon to children, and 
these sermons were so simple and entertaining that the Church was always 
filled with little ones on such occasions. 

He published a large number of books, principally sermons. For the last 

five years he has issued a volume of sermons every year. His chief works are, 

11 Every Sunday," " Warning and Teaching," "The King's Ferry-boat," " Short 

Sermons," "Milk and Honey," "Lives of Pioneer Missionaries Phelps and 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 

Nash," "Rockford Parish/' "Full Proof of the Ministry," "Boy Trained to 
the Ministry," " Lives of the Bishops." " Lives of the Bishops " is an exten- 
sive work, comprising biographies of Cranmer, Laud, Berkeley, Bowen, Free- 
man, Provoost, Stewart, and Wilson. He also wrote short lives of Washington, 
Franklin, and others. Probably his most popular work was the " King's Ferry- 
boat," which was a book of sermons to children. His latest volumes were 
"Old Paths," and another compilation of sermons issued during last year. 
His characteristics as a writer are clearness, ease, and grace of diction, 
and a wealth of anecdote and illustration, mingled with a quaint and quiet 
humor which made his works readable and interesting. 

Dr. Norton's father was a minister, and his brother, who now resides at 
Alexandria, is one of the most learned of the Virginia clergy. 

The following extract from "A Tribute from a Friend," which ap- 
peared in the Courier-Journal, is here inserted : 

" I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, From henceforth 
blessed are the dead who die in the Lord : yea, even so saith the Spirit; for they 
rest from their labors." 

At six o'clock yesterday morning the Rev. John N. Norton expired at 
his residence in this city, in the sixty-first year of his age. 

The announcement of his death will carry sorrow and sadness to many a 
heart in Kentucky and elsewhere, for throughout his long and eventful life he 
was always the friend and helper of the disconsolate, the sorrowing, and the 
suffering. 

His liberality was almost boundless and his labors for others unceasing; but 
above all his great and constant aim was to do the work of his Lord and Mas- 
ter. For riearly twenty years we have known him intimately and well, for we 
had the happiness to be under his ministrations both in Frankfort and Louis- 
ville, and therefore can well appreciate his purity of life and his ceaseless and 
untiring efforts in behalf of the Holy Gospel of Christ 

Before we knew Mr. Norton we chanced to be in Frankfort in the 
year 1855, the guest of Gov. John J. Crittenden. One evening while stand- 
ing with him at his front door a modest -looking young gentleman passed 
us, when the Governor remarked, "There goes a man who has not one cent 
in his pocket." As the young man who passed us had every appearance 
of a gentleman well to do, we turned to the Governor in some surprise and 
asked what induced him to make such a remark. His reply was, "That is 
Mr. Norton, the Episcopal minister, and if he had any money this morn- 
ing he has found out some distressed person by this time who he thought 
needed it more than himself and has doubtless given it away." A volume 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

could not express a greater eulogy than this. Would to God that there were 
more men like him 

When we heard of what at first seemed to us his untimely death we felt a 
pang of sorrow and anguish, but upon a moment's reflection we felt that our 
loss was his gain, for we firmly believe that, free from pretense and guile and 
sinless as mortal man can be, he has passed to the companionship of the 
blessed departed. 

When John the Baptist, while in prison, heard of the works of Christ, he 
sent two of his disciples unto Him and asked, "Art thou He that should come 
or do we look for another?" and it was then that our blessed Saviour, in His 
reply, asserted, among other things, in evidence of His divine mission, "And 
the poor have the Gospel preached to them;" and if any man was ever the 
preacher and benefactor of the poor, that man was John N. Norton. 

A pure and noble spirit has left its earthly tenement, but its destiny is 
happiness eternal. _ 

"Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride, 
And e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side; 
But in his duty, prompt to every call, / 

He watched and wept, he prayed and felt for all. 
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay, 
Allured to higher worlds and led the way." 



Wardens and Vestrymen. 

A meeting of the Wardens and Vestrymen was immediately sum- 
moned to take action and make all necessary arrangements. At this 
meeting the following resolutions were adopted: 

At a meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church, January 18th, called in conse- 
quence of the death of Rev. Dr. Norton, which occurred at his residence in 
this city at six o'clock on the morning of the same day, the following resolutions 
were passed, expressive of their esteem and affection, and as a sense of their 
great bereavement : 

Resolved, That it is with sad and sorrowing hearts that we, the Vestry of 
Christ Church, announce to the people of this Parish and the State the death of 
our beloved Associate Rector, the Rev. John N. Norton, D.D., whose whole 
life was so beautiful an illustration of Christian benevolence and charity. We 
bear grateful testimony to his high discharge of pastoral duty and point with 
thankfulness to the multitude whom his ministrations have led into the fold of 
Christ, showing how well, as messenger, watchman, and steward of the Lord, 
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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 

he "taught and premonished, fed and provided for the Lord's family, and 
sought for Christ's sheep which are dispersed abroad." 

That while his great services in the cause of Christ will be ever treasured in 
remembrance, and though we know it will be hard indeed to find another to 
fill his place, yet it is consolation to know that the memory of his good deeds 
will survive him, inciting those who come after to follow his noble example. 

To know if he was loved, ask those whose tears he dried, whose nakedness 
he clothed, whose hunger he satisfied, whose cold and comfortless hearths he 
made bright; and would ye know his reward, remember Christ's words, "In- 
asmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, My brethren, ye have 
done it unto Me." 

That we tender to his bereaved widow and daughter our profoundest sym- 
pathy in their hour of affliction, and yet we feel assured that he has merely 
been translated from an earthly to the celestial home of the blessed and happy, 
where some day he will stand ready to enfold in his arms the loved ones who 
will follow in his footsteps. 

That, as a testimonial of our love and affection for our deceased rector, we 
will attend his funeral in a body, and our secretary will enter these proceedings 
upon the records of the Church and furnish the family of our deceased brother 
with a copy of the same. 



Henry W. Barret, 

Secretary of the Vestry, 



The Funeral. 



Three o'clock Thursday, the 20th, was the time fixed for the Order 
of the Burial of the Dead. During the entire day, but particularly in 
the afternoon, the rain fell in torrents, which, with the melted snow and 
mud which had accumulated, made the sidewalks almost impassable. 
Notwithstanding the fearful weather Christ Church was filled with a con- 
gregation such as is rarely seen in this city. The rich and poor alike 
crowded the aisles and pews; white and black, old and young, the lame 
and blind, gray-haired men and women, and little children, assembled to 
pay the last sad tribute of love and respect to one whose love and care 
for them had been the master motive of a noble life. It was noticeable 
that there were persons in the Church of every denomination and creed, 
and one of the most touching incidents of the services was the placing 
of a beautiful floral tribute on the chancel steps by one whose religious 
belief could not have been more utterly at variance with those of the 
deceased. 

B . (9) 






REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 



At three o'clock the Rt. Rev. T. U. Dudley, D.D., Assistant Bishop of 
the Diocese, and the Rev. Drs. Craik, Perkins, and Sheild, and the Rev. 
Messrs. Tschiffely, Benton, Minnigerode, Barnwell, Waller, Helm, Free- 
man, McCready, Maycock, and Anderson came from the Vestry-room 
and proceeded to the door of the Church, where the coffin was received 
and the Burial Service of the Church was begun. Preceding the pall- 
bearers, the Bishop repeated the solemn sentences of the Service, and 
the procession moved toward the chancel. The coffin was borne by the 
members of Christ Church Vestry, consisting of the following gentle- 
men: William Cornwall, sr., John M. Robinson, John B. Smith, W. 
George Anderson, Henry W. Barret, S. B. Churchill, W. C. Tyler, W. 
C. Hite, D. P. Faulds, John B. Bangs, Thomas P. Jacob, and A. A. Quar- 
rier. The coffin having been deposited at the foot of the chancel steps, 
the choir sang the Burial Chant and the Bishop read the lesson appointed 
for the Service. The hymn " Asleep in Jesus" was then sung, and the 
Apostle's Creed and Prayers were said. Mrs. Davison then sang, " Lead, 
Kindly Light," and the Bishop announced that the Service would be 
concluded at the grave. 

As the body was being borne from the Church the choir sang a por- 
tion of Cherubini's Requiem Mass. , The service was very impressive, 
and there was hardly an eye in the Church that had not been dimmed 
with tears. The little children, who crowded about the chancel from 
whence it had been their wont to listen to the words of wisdom and 
advice so lovingly given by their departed friend, sat with awed faces and 
wondering eyes, as if it were impossible to realize that his last word had 
been spoken, and that they should never see him again. 

At the Church door the faces of those who came out told how deeply 
they had been moved. A gentleman standing near was heard to remark, 
"This attendance at Dr. Norton's funeral is a commentary on his life. 
People of every class are here, and a large number of them the poor and t 
neglected. His life has been devoted unceasingly to charitable works, 
and no one will ever be followed to the grave with more genuine sorrow 
than he." 

The boys from the Orphanage were present. The congregation of 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

the Church of the Merciful Saviour, a colored Church which was founded 
and supported by Dr. Norton, were assigned to the west side of the 
Church. It is said that they will feel the loss of their kind benefactor 
more keenly than the congregation of Christ Church, for it was he who 
stood by them in their hour of distress, when their spirits drooped and it 
seemed almost impossible for them to succeed in building their church. 
Dr. Norton went to their assistance, and with his own means placed 
them on a solid basis, and has ever since been their friend, and they 
loved him deeply for the interest he took in their spiritual welfare. 

After the services at the Church were concluded, the grief-stricken 
assemblage took up its line of March to Cave Hill through the drench- 
ing rain, to consign all that there was mortal of the loved friend and 
instructor to the cold and cheerless grave. The commitment was per- 
formed by Bishop Dudley. Considering the weather, no larger outpour- 
ing ever followed the remains of a loved one to the city of the dead. 

Immediately after the services at the grave were ended, the Clergy 
assembled at the Episcopal rooms and adopted the following 

Minute. 

Whereas, It has pleased Almighty God to remove from our midst the 
Rev. John N. Norton, D.D., Associate Rector of Christ Church; we, deeply 
impressed by the loss which his Parish and the community mourn, with 
thankful recognition of the good example of his life and death, desire to 
record our testimony to the purity of his character and the active beneficence 
of his life. Self-consecrated from his earliest years, he never at any period 
seemed to think of any other vocation than the Ministry of the Church, 
of which he was an hereditary member. Ordained as early as the laws of the 
Church would allow, his very life was in the things which belonged to his 
engagement with God. As much as if not more than any.one we have known, 
he seemed to have surpassing sympathy with those who were furthest removed 
from his own affluent circumstances, scholarly culture, and singular refinement. 
The virtue of being a preacher of the Gospel to the poor he made his own, 
and that to such a degree that while his distinguished position in the Church 
and with the community brought him into contact with the highest and most 
refined, his name is associated in all men's minds with the ungodly, whom 
he sought out to instruct in the way of God; and the destitute, whom in 

en) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

personal toils he made the subjects of his ministrations, his prayers, and his 
beneficence. 

Unweariedly occupied in official duties as well as in these offices of benev- 
olence, he had little time, and perhaps little inclination, for mere social engage- 
ments ; but in no man were the personal attributes of forbearance, gentleness, 
kindness, and unselfish sympathy more clearly seen and felt by his brethren in 
all their intercourse with him. 

If, perhaps, he wanted the stern, majestic virtues of John the Baptist, or if 
the circumstances of his life and Ministry did not call them forth, yet the mold 
of his Lord's mind was ever seen in the softened majesty of unassuming quiet- 
ness and brotherly love. 

Resolved, That while we extend our heartfelt sympathy to his bereaved wife 
and child and brother, we can not refrain from rejoicing with them in the 
assurance of the good inheritance upon which our brother hath entered. 

E. T. Perkins. 
C. H. Sheild. 

J. G. MlNNIGERODE. 



The Memorial Service. 

A Memorial Service had been determined upon by the Vestry of 
Christ Church, the appointment and arrangement of which was left to 
the Assistant Bishop, he, however, being by them specially invited to 
deliver a discourse suitable to the occasion. This Service was fixed 
for Sunday, January 30th, at three p. m. Representatives were present 
from all the Congregations of the city, and the Clergy were vested 
and seated in the Chancel. The Church was filled long before the 
hour appointed for the Service. 

Beethoven's Kyrie in C was sung by the Choir. The sixth Selection 
of Psalms was chanted. Peter's Deus Misereratur was sung after the 
Lesson. The Anthem was a solo and chorus from Mendelssohn's XLV 
Psalm, "O, that I had the Wings of a Dove," and "Hear My Prayer." 
The Clergy assisting in the Service were the Rev. Dr. Perkins and 
Rev. Messrs. Benton and Minnigerode. 

The Rt. Rev. Thomas Underwood Dudley, D.D., Assistant Bishop 
of the Diocese, then delivered the 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 



Memorial Sermon. 

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, 
ye have done it unto Me." — Matt, xxv, 40. 

These words make a part of the Master's picture of His great assize. The 
Lord Jesus was speaking in the Temple at Jerusalem. It was on one of the last 
days of His earthly life ; it was when He stood in the immediate and recognized 
presence of death ; it was when He knew that the hour of His agony was at 
hand, and that He must now complete the sacrifice of Himself for our sins. 
After His manner He had been speaking to the people in parable and proverb, 
illustrating the unfamiliar and the mysterious by their analogy to the familiar 
and the commonplace. He had told them that the subjects of the kingdom 
He had come to establish must be vigilant, that their lamps must be trimmed 
and burning, as those of the virgins waiting for the bridal procession; that 
they must be diligent as the servants of the man who travelled into a far coun- 
try, to whom the master had delivered his goods, for like as they must each one 
give account of his stewardship, even so shall every man give account of 
himself to the Son of God. "When the Son of Man," He says, " shall come 
in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne 
of His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations ; and He shall sepa- 
rate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." 
Jesus Christ says that when the end is come, all men shall not receive the 
same judgment ; that there shall be discrimination and separation ; that He 
Himself will make it ; that the principle on which it shall be made will be the 
personal relation to Himself; and finally, that the evidence of devotion to Him, 
the Son of Man, shall be devotion to His brethren, the sons of men — yes, 
the lowliest and the least, because they are His brethren. 

This is the utterance of the Son of God, of Him Whom God declared to 
be His Son, with power, " in that he raised Him from the dead." It is plain and 
unmistakable ; it is veiled by no figure of speech ; it is the revelation of the 
eternal principles of the divine judgment to which each and all of us must 
come. Ah ! how in the realized presence of the anticipated solemnities of that 
day do the littlenesses of our ecclesiastical and theological controversies stand 
out in their true proportions of insignificance ! How do the distinctions of 
our shibboleths of division become inaudible amid the thunder tones of the 
King. " Depart ye. Ye did it not to one of the least of these My brethren, 
ye did it not to Me." 

We are come today, men and brethren, to a solemn Service. We have 
borne a good man's body away, and have buried it. The spirit which did 
inhabit that now broken tabernacle, is gone into the Paradise. His race is run, 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

his battle is fought, his record is complete, and its story awaits the day when 
He, the Omnipotent, shall open the book and read. Therefore, I have read 
these magnificent words as the suggestion of that I am come to speak, for we 
are bidden, and we are come, "not to sorrow as those without hope" for him 
who is gone. 

Why shall we not stand silent in despair about the new-made mound ? Why 
may we dare think of the dead Preacher with joyful recollection of the past 
and eager forecast of the future ? Why may we today give thanks that he 
lived, now that he is dead ? I answer, because we have warrant to believe that 
he is departed in the true faith of the Holy name, and shall, therefore, have 
his "perfect consummation and bliss" in the "eternal and everlasting glory." 
Nay, let me not speak in the parable of stereotyped phrases, the words of 
crystallized wisdom, oftentimes meaningless from their very familiarity. We 
hope and are assured that it shall be well with him, because he manifested his 
love to Jesus Christ by his daily ministration to the poor brethren in whom 
Jesus did appeal. 

And yet I am not come with any purpose to prove this fact to you as the 
warrant of your confidence of his everlasting well being; you who heard his 
weekly words of exhortation and warning j you before whose eyes his blameless, 
nay his diligent, self-denying, self-sacrificing life was lived; for such proof were 
an impertinence. I am come seeking to portray, if I can, the characteristics of 
the Man, the Churchman, the Minister and Preacher, that we may garner them 
as precious incentives for our life, and that so we may be helped to follow 
Christ as he did follow Him. 

John Nicholas Norton came to Kentucky in December, 1846, being then 
just twenty-six years of age. Of his life prior to that time we know but little. 
He was born in Ontario County, New York, in the year 1820. We know also 
that he was graduated from Hobart College, Geneva, New York, and afterward 
from the General Theological Seminary in New York City. Of the regimen 
and influences of the home whence he went forth to those training-schools we 
know nothing, unless as has been suggested, the story told in his little book, 
"The Boy Trained to be a Minister," is a picture of his own boyhood; but the 
fruits bear witness of the tree, and the noble manhood tells what the teaching 
of that home must have been. Thus equipped for his life battle, after serving 
for a time as an Assistant Minister in one of the Churches in Rochester, N. Y., 
he came to be a pioneer Missionary of the Church in our then still new coun- 
try, and settled in Frankfort. There for twenty-three years he labored as Min- 
ister and Teacher, part of the time as a very poor man, with no income save the 
meager stipend received for the performance of his duties in the Church and in 
the School, and part of the time as the possessor of great wealth. In 1870, on 
the invitation of this venerable Parish, he came to be its Associate Rector, and 
in the ten years, which since have passed away, he spent his all in ministering 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 

to the people of this city ; his life-powers were literally worn out in this service 
of love, and two months ago, I believe, he began to think that he must lessen his 
labours. The onset of the illness from which he never recovered did but hasten 
his conclusion, and compelled the action from which he had naturally shrunk; 
and from his death-bed, before it was recognized to be his death-bed, came to 
the Vestry the resignation of his charge. An answer was returned asking that 
he would reconsider his determination, but its request could never be made 
known to him, for already his mind was staggering in darkness under the 
fever's blinding blow. And so the end came. Nay, to complete the record of 
these few incidents of a life, in the world's judgment, wholly uneventful, let me 
not fail to add that this great Church was crowded with mourners of every class 
and degree to do honor to his memory, and, despite the down-pouring rain, a 
multitude stood by the narrow house where we laid his body down. 

And is this all ? Yes, these the events of his life, that good life, that great 
life, whose results are so manifest here on earth, whose ending makes such 
grievous vacancy, whose grave shall be green in the hearts of men and women 
all over our Commonwealth, until they, too, come where he is. The years 
passed by in the busy, ceaseless routine of Preaching, with tongue and with 
pen, from the Pulpit and the Press; in ministering the Gospel of the grace of 
God publicly, and from house to house; in feeding the hungry and clothing 
the naked, and comforting those that mourned. This is all. 

" Day after day filled up with blessed toil, 
Hour after hour still bringing in new spoil." 

What were the characteristics of the man ? I answer, first of all, diligence. 
As I think of him, his most telling picture must be that of a man standing with 
his watch in his hand, assuring you with cordial courtesy that, now that the 
business he had come for was attended to, he could not tarry for even a 
moment of friendly chat, but must hurry away for the performance of other 
duty. 

I think of him as rising to depart after a brief visit to one of his friends 
and parishoners, and, being bidden to stay because she had nothing of partic- 
ular importance to do, making reply in his quiet, nervous tone of almost shy- 
ness, "Yes, madam, thank you, but I have." 

I would measure my words carefully ; I would not be betrayed by the feel- 
ings natural, almost necessary, upon an occasion like this into the stereotyped 
exaggeration of funeral discourse, and yet I must say that I believe I never saw 
so diligent a man in the Ministry of Christ or in any other calling. Remember 
that the word " diligent " signifies primarily " loving," and in a higher, truer 
sense it may be applied to him as prosecuting unceasingly the one work, doing 
the one thing to which he had given his life because he loved to do it. Remem- 
ber that for the larger part of that life all possibility of at least one other and 

(15) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

lower motive was taken away; remember that to him mighty were the attrac- 
tions of foreign travel and of literary leisure, and yet the short vacation ended, 
each autumn found him returned to his work — to the loved work of preaching 
the Gospel to the poor, of healing the broken-hearted, of preaching deliver- 
ance to the captive and recovering of sight to the blind. It is said that for 
each day he made regular programme, with the work to be done divided 
among the working hours. I know not if this be true, but I do know that one 
duty seemed ever to trample upon the feet of that which went before, hasting 
to make way for those crowding behind. From the Study to the Church, from 
the Church to the Hospital or the Prison-house of sickness or sorrow, this the 
round, not one day, but all days. Verily, he was not slothful in the business 
God had given him to do. 

But, secondly, I am led to remark upon his persistency in carrying out what- 
ever he had taken in hand. He was tenacious of his purpose, and with diffi- 
culty shaken from its completion by any influence. As I rode from his late 
residence to this Church upon the occasion of his burial, I was accompanied 
by the oldest of the Vestrymen of Ascension Church, Frankfort, who had come 
with his Rector to do honor to the memory of his old friend and Pastor. Nat- 
urally we talked together of the incidents of the career just ended, and of the 
characteristics of the marked individuality of him whose body we were to bury, 
and my companion told me that the day after Dr. Norton had sent his resig- 
nation of the Rectorship of the Church in Frankfort he called upon him, 
hoping to be able to adduce some arguments that might avail to change his 
determination. Entering the Study, he was greeted with the words, " I know 
what you have come for. It's of no use. I am going." So it was in all his 
long life. Mature and prayerful deliberation was the preparation for decision, 
but that decision made, it was with great difficulty shaken. 

I remember when I came to the Diocese that one of the first matters de- 
manding my attention was the proposed Ordination of a Candidate for the Min- 
istry, who had become such under his auspices and advice. I remember how 
hardly the consent of the Standing Committee was given, and was told that for 
a long time he had labored to persuade that consent. Until the very last the 
friends of the Candidate feared the necessary passport to Ordination would not 
be given ; it came only through the patient persistency of Dr. Norton, and 
the Church in this Diocese today has. through this means the services of a 
faithful, devoted Clergyman. 

I do not say that such result has always followed, or was likely always to 
follow the success of his persistent efforts. That would demand the rare gift 
of a perspicacity of judgment equal to the tenacity of purpose. But surely one 
mighty element in the accomplishment of his work was this, his incapacity to 
abandon the pursuit of an end once set plainly in view. 

The third characteristic I would note as a striking feature in the moral coun- 
(16) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

tenance of our friend, was his sympathy with men as men. Not wealth, not 
social position, not refinement, not learning, but manhood was what appealed 
with success to his Christian nature. It was to benefit and to bless men that he 
was diligent ; the elevation, the enlightening, the comforting, the saving of men 
was the one end and aim of his life, which no difficulty and no enticement 
could make him cease to strive for. 

I have reserved as an example of his wide-reaching sympathy for men as 
men, a work which in its conduct has shown almost equally the persistency of 
his purposes for good, and of his adherence to his own ideas of their accom- 
plishment, and which must ever be a memorial of his true Christian spirit. I 
allude to his erection, entirely at his own expense, of the Church of the Mer- 
ciful Saviour, for colored people, with School-house adjoining, and to his main- 
taining that Church and School at his own expense to the very day of his death. 
I do not know whether or not there has been exaggeration of the feeling on 
this particular subject among our people at the time this work was begun, and 
of the consequent cost of undertaking it, but I do know that he alone of us all 
has done any thing to give the Church to this large class of our fellow-citizens, 
and that I for one, feel ashamed and afraid at the recollection of our failure. I 
for one, thank God that amid our universal neglect of this numerous people so 
needing the sober simplicity, the quiet conservatism, the elevating and refining 
influences of this Church's system, one man did testify, by his words and his 
gifts, to the reality that we say we believe, that Jesus died for all men, and that 
His Church is Catholic, open to all and fitted to all. 

And this leads me to the remark that perhaps I should have made in the 
beginning, that faith in the living Christ, the crucified, risen, and ascended 
Christ, was the very substance of his character. Because he was faithful, he 
was diligent, remembering that the night soon cometh when no man can work; 
because he believed that the work of Jesus Christ has reference to all the sons 
of men ; that for the pauper and the outcast there is hope and deliverance in 
Him, therefore, he would, under no influence or temptation, let go his purpose 
to bring such within the Household of Faith. Because the Son of God took upon 
Him our flesh, and thereby consecrated humanity, therefore, to him humanity 
in its essence and not in its accidental surroundings was the magnet of attrac- 
tion. Yes, men and women, I believe that underneath all the peculiarities of 
thought and speech, and of method of action, which certainly were as marked 
in him as in any other man, was the living realization of the living Christ, 
constraining to sympathetic diligence and constancy, and perhaps giving the 
peculiarity to many modes of his procedure which have seemed strangest 
and most ill-judged to the lookers-on. 

I remember once to have entered a street-car on Sunday morning to be car- 
ried to a distant Church where I was to officiate. There I found him seated, 
or, rather, on my entrance, returning to his seat from the fare-box, into which 
c (17) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 

he had already dropped my fare. He began to talk to me of the last volume 
of sermons he had published — "The King's Ferry Boat" — which contains, as 
you know, sermons preached to children in this Church, which are character- 
ized by the fullest use of his own method of odd and amusing illustrations. He 
knew that this, his style of preaching, had been much criticised, and after 
speaking for a little while of the criticisms which had come to his ear, he 
added, "Ah, well, I am quite content to be considered a fool for Christ's sake." 

The words I have never forgotten, for I believe them true. I believe that 
the constraining power of the man's life and that which, as I have said, gave 
the very form to his thought, and his words, and his actions, was the love of 
Jesus Christ. 

Such, as he appeared to me, were the moral characteristics of this good man 
who, small in stature, distinguished by not the least portion of Clerical attire, 
with kindly benevolent face, moved quietly but with nervous quickness and shy- 
ness for so many years in this community. His eyes as well as his gait beto- 
kened this nervous shyness of his nature, for they moved restlessly from one 
object to another, except they were, as was his frequent habit, curtained from the 
light by a book or paper held in his hand ; and his words in conversation were 
exponents of the same disposition, like timid messengers hurrying out for a 
parley with an enemy, and then hastily retreating into the familiar safety of 
silence. Affable to all, with kindly greeting to every body, with sympathetic 
power and willingness to adapt himself to the condition of those he met, and to 
condescend to the lowest estate of mind or body without the least appearance 
of such descent — and yet familiar with none. Not genial, no, for as I under- 
stand it that word signifies the love of the companionship of one's kind, and no 
entreaty could avail to keep him long in the merely social gathering. I have 
wondered sometimes, was this indisposition natural ? Was it not rather the con- 
suming diligence which like sharp spur ever urged to the prosecution of other 
and new works for the blessing of man, that so there was no time for the merely 
social pleasure? Had the affection for his work expelled the natural affection 
for the companionship of men, that he could not seek their society save as the 
Minister to bring his brethren counsel or comfort or warning ? 

As a Churchman, if the division be made by the only real test, namely, the 
doctrine held concerning the validity of non-Episcopal orders, he must clearly 
be classed with those who are called High-Churchmen, for he most certainly 
held and taught the divine origin, and the universal obligation of the Apostolic 
Succession of the Episcopate. And yet let us remember for our learning how 
he said in the Sermon which he preached in St. Paul's Church in this city, at 
the opening of our Diocesan Council in 1877 "that the member of an old and 
well-established family did not feel called upon to be ever proclaiming his ped- 
igree," for these words set forth his view and his habit with reference to those 
without our Communion. His love for the Church was intense, and yet, despite 

(18) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 

its intensity, not narrow. Born and bred in this Church of his ancestors, he 
simply took for granted the appreciation of its excellences in the minds and 
hearts of those to whom he spoke, and while scrupulously careful to give to 
himself and to his people the help to be derived from fullest regard to the 
Church's appointed system, yet he never gave way to mere eulogy of that sys- 
tem, and still less to denunciation of those who did not conform to its require- 
ments. As is well said in a notice of him published in " The Living Church/' 
" For sectism he had no sympathy, but he loved sectarians, and was ever try- 
ing with all his might to bring them into the one true fold of the Living God.'' 

More than this — as a true son of this household of faith, he walked in the 
freedom of conscious sonship, and not in the slavery of a bondage to the 
minutest letter of requirement. He had not a "morbidly rubrical conscience," 
but ever acted on the principle that, as has been said, " The Prayer Book was 
made for man, and not man for the Prayer Book," even to an extent that was 
an offense to some of his brethren holding much lower views of Church author- 
ity than he did. 

But perhaps of all the men whom I have known in the Church's Ministry, 
he held the highest view of the efficacy of Sacrament and Ordinance. His dil- 
igence to bring men to Christ, his pertinacious refusal to cease his effort until 
the result was accomplished, found rest and satisfaction in the day of their 
Baptism or Confirmation. Though thereafter he followed them with prayer and 
thought and word of exhortation and warning, yet in the act of confession he 
found abounding comfort. And while I do not remember to have ever talked 
with him specifically upon this topic, I have ever been inclined to believe that 
this loftiest conception of the sacramental blessing was perhaps based upon his 
felt necessity for such miraculous aid to the ignorance and the mental inca- 
pacity, the degradation and wretchedness, to which he so persistently minis- 
tered the Gospel of the grace of God. 

To speak of him as the Minister of Jesus Christ, is necessarily but to repeat 
what has been said of him as a man, for as truly as said St. Paul, did he say 
with the voice of his every faculty and power, " Let a man so account of us as 
of the Ministers of Christ." He was essentially a Minister, and " he preached 
not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord," and himself the servant of men " for 
Jesus' sake.' 

Diligent, persistent, sympathetic, such was his service. But I can not 
refrain from the mention here of that manifestation of his sympathy for the 
poor, which was altogether peculiar to him, and was possible to him because of 
the condition of affluence in which he was placed. I mention it because so 
much fault has been found with it, and because I believe that in this as in all 
the other peculiarities of his Ministry, he was governed by the principle of 
faith in Jesus Christ, and the endeavor to walk even as He walked. I allude of 
course, you will understand, to his large gifts of money to the needy attendants 

(19) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

upon this Church at each weekly occasion of Service. He believed that he was 
the steward of God, to dispense faithfully the wealth which God had given 
him. Ah, would God that more were like him in this belief! He believed 
that the Lord Jesus ever relieved bodily pain and want before He undertook to 
give the satisfying truth to the suffering hungry soul. He believed that the 
relief which ought to be given, and was to be given by him, had best be given 
in the Church after the Service was ended, as thereby attendance upon the 
means of grace was encouraged and measurably secured — therefore he did 
as he did. 

Certainly he was often imposed upon ; I think he recognized, as others did, 
the dangers and the necessary evils attending this form of alms-giving ; but in 
his best judgment he esteemed it under all circumstances best. My brethren, 
though our judgment may condemn the mode, may call it foolish and wasteful 
expenditure, let us not fail to admire the Christ-like spirit which prompted the 
beneficence ; let us not fail to give thanks that our brother, under the constrain- 
ing influence of grace, was willing to be thus called a fool for Christ's sake. 
Often deceived doubtless he was; and yet not always. And the record is 
written, " Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My 
brethren, ye have done it unto Me." 

It remains that I speak very briefly of the characteristics of our departed 
friend as a Preacher, of his peculiarities in the performance of that duty which, 
perhaps, he loved best to do. Yes, I say, loved best to do ; for while he attrib- 
uted as I have said, in the judgment of almost all his brethren, an undue effi- 
cacy to the Sacraments of divine appointment and to the Ordinances of Apos- 
tolic origin and of Ecclesiastical sanction, yet no man more than he magnified 
his office as a Preacher of the Gospel. Perhaps very much the larger part of 
his busy life was spent in the preparation of Sermons, and of books of biogra- 
phy and of fiction, designed to preach the same everlasting story; and you will 
have noticed doubtless, that his labor in the Church's public religious Service 
was confined always, when it was possible, to the delivery of the Sermon. The 
little bodily strength which for twenty years past was his portion, must, he 
thought and said, all be reserved for the performance of this high function of 
the ordained Priest, while the reading of the prescribed Service might be dele- 
gated to the Layman. And that he might preach, he studied, and the charac- 
ter of the books he read is fullest indication of his conception of Preaching ; 
that it was to bring the truth as it is in Jesus to the minds and hearts of the 
busy, bustling men of the world; to the just as busy managers of fashionable 
society; to the care-worn mothers; to the jaded toilers and moilers; to the 
"hewers of wood and drawers of water," to whom in general there is nor time 
nor disposition, if there be capacity, to read or to think of the eternal realities 
of life and death. He felt himself sent .not to the cultured and the thoughtful, 
but to the ignorant and the thoughtless; and his labor was to sharpen his 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

words that they might penetrate dullness, might awaken indifference, might 
interest ordinary intelligence, and so might lodge as reminder and blessing in 
minds from which the most argumentative discourse, the most subtle specula- 
tion, the most systematic statement of doctrine would glance with no sign left 
behind save angry recollection of the tedious delay of the longed-for emanci- 
pation. Hence his study was of books of incident, real or imagined, that inci- 
dents enfolding truth might be brought in number and variety to his work of 
preaching. No religious biography of value, published in our lifetime, is want- 
ing upon his shelves, and the cases are crowded with the works of the great 
masters, ancient and modern, who in fiction delineate the workings of the 
human spirit. A great mass of Newspapers, especially those of a religious 
character, burdened the bag of the postman who came to his door, and from 
their columns came the. new, fresh stories which week after week, were the 
framing of the truths he would exhibit from ihis place. 

Let me not forget to add that the papers read, each and every one of them 
went as messengers, directed by his own hand, to some distant household, often 
far beyond the boundaries of our Commonwealth, to convey the tidings that 
the old Pastor had not forgotten those to whom he once ministered, and to 
urge that they be faithful to the Vows once spoken. 

Such being the preparation for his preaching, what was its style and its char- 
acteristics ? I answer first, brevity. How often have I been amazed to hear the 
peculiar modulation of voice that announced conclusion, and to see him turn 
away from the desk, when I thought he had hardly reached the climax of the 
discussion he had begun. But he preached for those especially unaccustomed 
to long continued exercise of thought, who therefore are quickly wearied, and 
to weary he thought, as all men must think, is to obliterate impressions already 
made. 

Secondly, his sermons were marked by exceeding plainness of speech. He 
would have them, without fail, to be in a " language understanded of the peo- 
ple " — all the people, even the most unlearned and ignorant, and therefore he 
used words and expressions which of necessity, grated harshly upon the nicer 
taste of some of his auditors. Because, as he said, the slang phrase of the day 
is so sharply pointed that it must find its way into the heart, therefore he would 
use it, and if the cultivated auditor despised his rhetoric, he was content to be 
considered a fool for Christ's sake. 

Again, I note directness as the special excellence of his style, as in my judg- 
ment, it is the highest excellence to be sought after, the hardest to be attained 
by the Preacher of the Gospel. The homely diction, the frequent anecdote, 
were but the vehicle of most direct approach, and therefore were employed. 
He talked to men face to face ; he talked to them of their sins and of their 
danger, of their duties and of their failings; of the remedy offered for their 
sins, and of their responsibility. 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

And through all, and in all, he said, was manifested the tender sympathy of 
a heart that loved men, and would bring them by any and all means to the 
knowledge of the Son of God. 

Let me illustrate by a single example my idea of his preaching. It will 
accomplish it more perfectly than all my attempted analysis. When I had been 
Bishop but a few months, I was called upon to ordain to the Diaconate the 
gentleman in whose entrance to the Ministry, Dr. Norton, as I have said, had 
shown such unflagging interest. Naturally I invited him to be the Preacher of 
the Sermon necessary on the occasion of the Ordination. It was very short ; 
it was very plain ; it was very direct ; it was very tender. Its conclusion was 
in these words — I can never forget them, " My brother," he said, addressing 
the Candidate, " Legh Richmond says that when the Dairyman's daughter was 
lying on her death-bed he came to see her, and taking her hand, asked her if 
she were afraid to die. ' No, sir,' she replied. ' Why are you not afraid to die?' 
he asked. ' Because of the Gospel that is come into the world,' was her reply. 
1 Who brought the Gospel to the world ?' ' You drought it to me, sir.'' Ah ! my 
brother," said the Preacher, "labor that you may have such reward as that." 

I have done. Brother Clergymen, we, it may be, did not agree with some 
of his views, theological or ecclesiastical ; we did not, it may be, approve some 
of his methods of administration ; yet let us give thanks for the good example 
of this man, who was in very deed servant of all for Jesus' sake, and let us 
strive in our life, though it must be on other lines of labor and by other modes 
of thought and of action, to manifest the spirit of Christ which he manifested. 

Christian Churchmen, you to whom for so many years he spoke the Word 
in all simplicity and with all boldness, see that ye forget not the lesson he 
taught by his word and by his life, " I must work the works of Him that sent 
me while it is day ; the night cometh when no man can work." Realize tliat 

" 'Tis not for man to trifle; life is brief 

And sin is here ; 
Our age is but the falling of a leaf, 

A dropping tear, 
We have no time to sport away the hours — 
All must be earnest in a world like ours," 

for the hour cometh in which all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of 
the Son of Man, and shall come forth to stand before Him. And to those on 
His right hand the King shall answer and say, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch 
as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, My brethren, ye have done 
it unto Me." 

A hymn was sung. Collects offered, and the Benediction of Peace 
pronounced. 

(22) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 

Correspondence. 

Rt. Rev. T. U. Dudley, D.D. : 

Dear Sir — I am directed by the Vestry of Christ Church to convey to you 
their appreciation of your very faithful discharge of the service asked at your 
hands in memory of our late Associate Rector, and to request, for publication, 
a copy of your Sermon on that occasion. 

Yours very truly, 

Henry W. Barret, 
Louisville, February I, 1881. Secretary of the Vestry. 

Henry W. Barret, Esq., Secretary of the Vestry of Christ Church, Louisville, Ky. : 

My Dear Sir — I have received your favor of the 1st inst, in which you 

convey to me the expression of the kind appreciation of the Vestry of Christ 

Church of the Sermon I preached at their request in memory of the late 

Dr. Norton. 

I am pleased that my effort to portray the character of the good man whom 

we have lost is adjudged to have been successful, by those best qualified to form 

a judgment. 

If they think that the publication of the Sermon will do good, I am of 

course thankfully willing that it be published, and I herewith send you the copy 

for which you ask. Very truly yours, 

T. U. Dudley. 

Louisville, Februarys, 1881. 

Memorandum from the proceedings of the Vestry of Christ Church, 
Monday evening, February 7, 1881. 

Through the Secretary a communication was presented from Bishop Dud- 
ley responding to the Vestry's request for a copy of his Memorial Sermon 
of the late Dr. Norton, preached in this Church Sunday afternoon, Janu- 
ary 30th. 

The Chair appointed S. B. Churchill, W. C. Hite, and John B. Bangs a 
committee to prepare and publish, in such form as they may think suitable, 
the Sermon and such other proceedings relating to the death of Dr. Norton 
as in their judgment may seem right and proper. 

Col. S. B. Churchill, Chairman : 

Dear Sir — In pursuance of above proceedings of the Vestry, I beg to 
hand you herewith a copy of the correspondence between Bishop Dudley and 
myself on the subject referred to, and also the copy of the Sermon. 

Yours very truly, 

Henry W. Barret, 
Louisville, February 9, 1881. Secretary of the Vestry. 

(23) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 



Memorial Tributes. 

At a called meeting of the Vestry of St. Paul's Church the following 
preamble and resolutions were adopted : 

This Vestry has convened to testify our profound sorrow at the death of 
the Rev. John N. Norton, D.D., Associate Rector of Christ Church, in this 
city. 

We are deeply sensible that the Parish of which he was Associate Rector, 
the Diocese to which he has been so long attached, and the Church at large, 
has sustained a great loss in the death of this good man and faithful Minister 
of Christ ; and we claim the privilege to mingle and express our sympathies 
with those of the Parish to which he was immediately attached. 

He was firm in his convictions of truth, but singularly averse to contro- 
versy. The burden of his life was a labor of love. To say that he was 
earnest and faithful in the discharge of duty does not fill the measure of our 
estimate of his lovely character. The Christian graces displayed in his daily 
life, the constraining love of Christ, by which he was actuated in all his inter- 
course with his fellow-men, were his distinguishing traits. Of him we are per- 
mitted to say he was a living epistle of the Gospel of Christ. Modest and 
retiring in his nature, never self-asserting in his demeanor, ever regardful of 
the feelings of others, his life was dedicated to the Master's work. In his 
life, precept and example were harmoniously blended. 

No man was more constantly engaged in deeds of charity. His efforts to 
reclaim the lost, to relieve the wants of the suffering and neglected, and to dis- 
tribute the Bread of Life to the ignorant and the famishing, was the work to 
which he was devoted, and which to the end of his life he faithfully discharged. 

We trust and believe he has entered upon his reward. 

We desire that this testimonial in memory of our deceased brother shall 
be entered as a permanent record upon the Minutes of this Parish. 

Resolved, That a copy of this Memorial be presented to his bereaved family, 
with assurances of our heartfelt sympathy in the loss which they have sustained 
in the death of the husband and the father. 

Also, that a copy be transmitted to the Rector and Vestry of Christ Church, 
and that we will attend his funeral in a body. 

William H. Byers, 

Louisville, January 1 9, 1 88 1. Secretary pv tern. 

At a called meeting of the Vestry of Ascension Church at Frankfort, 
Ky., to pay proper respect to the memory of their former Pastor, Rev. 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

John N. Norton, Grant Green, Esq., read the following preamble and 
resolutions, and on motion of Gen. D. W. Lindsey, they were unani- 
mously adopted : 

While the Congregation of Ascension Church is now mourning the death 
of its life-long friend and former most beloved Pastor, the Rev. John N. 
Norton, it is fitting that we, the Vestry of this Church, should give expres- 
sion to our profound sorrow for the great calamity that has fallen on the 
Church, on society at large, and on his beloved family. In the light of 
a benefactor to his fellow-man, as the unfaltering friend of the poor and dis- 
tressed, as the ready comforter of the aged, the sick, and the helpless, there 
is perhaps no other man in the entire Diocese whose death could have caused 
so universal regret or widespread sorrow. In many respects Mr. Norton 
was a remarkable man. Of even, steady, well-balanced mental endowments, 
no event could cast its shadow across the luster of his perfect life, so clad in 
the armor of faith that in the hour of trial no dark doubt, no vague foreboding, 
could obscure the perfect light derived from prayer. Always spurning the 
false for the real, rejecting the perishable for the everlasting, he made no 
compromise between the pleasures of this life and the eternal bliss that was 
to come. Many years of his valuable life were interwoven with the history 
of Ascension Church, where through his ministrations a large congregation was 
built up ; and on taking his departure, he not only left behind the impress of 
a master spirit, but the example of a pure model. From here he was called 
as Associate Rector of Christ Church at Louisville, where " the daily beauty 
of his life," his active yet simple and unobtrusive virtues won rapidly on the 
affections and esteem of all with whom he came in contact. In so large a 
field of usefulness he was constantly employed, and he went forth into the 
highways and thoroughfares of life, wherever good was to be accomplished, 
whether to minister to the sick and dying, to relieve the poor, or to comfort 
the downhearted, there were found the traces of his footsteps, and there the 
light of his presence had been diffused. As his prayer had ascended from the 
bedside of sickness, that the sufferer might bear his afflictions patiently, so he 
bore his own in the supreme hour of death without murmur or complaint; 
indeed his agonies were so great and so heroically sustained, one almost feared 
to pity him lest they wronged a fortitude so majestic. Over forehead, lips, 
and eyes there always breathed a prevailing character of gentleness, a calm, 
a serenity evidently caught from the peaceful heart within. His sermons, 
many of which have appeared in book form, are models of English purity, 
and have had a wide circulation. They are in style a type of their author — 
simple, earnest, impressive, and thoroughly practical. Now, profoundly im- 
pressed with the overshadowing calamity that has overtaken this Diocese, 
we, the Vestry of Ascension Church have, 

D (25) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

Resolved, That in the death of our lamented friend and former Pastor, the 
Rev. J. N. Norton, we can only bow to one of those inscrutable decrees, the 
wisdom of which it is not given us to comprehend. That when taken from 
the field of his usefulness, the Protestant Episcopal Church of America lost 
one of its most distinguished and enlightened Ministers, the Diocese of 
Kentucky one of its brightest jewels, the poor "a friend who never deceived 
hope or deserted sorrow;" and his family a husband and father around whose 
affectionate heart entwines every domestic virtue, and in whose soul they were 
more dearly enshrined than all other objects here below. 

Resolved, That we offer them our heartfelt sympathies in this hour of their 
bereavement, and our sincere wish that they take comfort in the hope of 
reuniting with him in that "eternal abode" which u eye hath not seen nor 
ear heard, nor hath it entered the heart of man to conceive." 

Resolved, That the papers of this city and also the papers of Louisville be 
requested to publish these resolutions, and that the Secretary be directed to 
furnish a copy to the family of the deceased, and that a copy be sent to the 
Vestry of Christ Church, Louisville, Kentucky. 

Edwin A. Penick, 

Chairman. 

James W. Heffner, 

Secretary. 

At a meeting of the Board of Diocesan Missions held February 3, 
1 88 1, the following minute was adopted unanimously: 

God in His wise providence having taken to Himself the Rev. John Nich- 
olas Norton, D.D., late Associate Rector of Christ Church and a member of 
the Board of Diocesan Missions, we desire to place on record our estimate of 
his character. 

Faithful in his high trust as a Minister, diligent in every duty, benevolent 
in his deeds, zealous for the extension of the Church, and deeply interested in 
the missionary work of this Diocese, he has been called by his Master into the 
higher service, leaving behind him a memory fragrant of work well done. We 
who knew him so well and valued him so highly mourn his loss. 

That the Secretary of this Board be instructed to convey this their action 
to Mrs. Norton, with the assurance of the sympathies of the members of this 
body in her deep affliction, and their prayers that "God will comfort her with a 
sense of His goodness, lift up His countenance upon her, and give her peace." 

That this minute be placed on the record. 

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Theological Seminary 

of Kentucky, held February 4, 1881, the death of the Rev. J. N. Norton, 
(26) 



REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 

D.D., formerly a member of the Board, was announced by the Rev. Dr. 
Perkins, and the following resolutions were presented by him, and unani- 
mously adopted and ordered to be recorded in the minutes of the Board. 

We,'the Board of Trustees of the Theological Seminary of the Diocese of 
Kentucky, with a deep sense of our loss in the death of our brother the Rev. 
Dr. Norton, and desiring to have our declaration of that loss and our high 
appreciation of the character and service of our brother and colaborer recorded 
in our minutes and transmitted to his bereaved family, do hereby declare that 
for the many long years of his service in this Board Dr. John N. Norton was 
faithful in the discharge of every duty, prompt to the minute in attending every 
meeting, and a wise and helpful counselor. 

It is with supreme thankfulness that we express our conviction that he was 
continually "looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith," and 
so was adorned with the graces of Christian character, "above all things put- 
ting on charity the bond of perfectness," which taught him not to "look on 
his own only, but on the things of others;" which grace manifested itself in 
his constant and tender compassion for the temporal and spiritual wants of the 
poor, as well as in his considerate regard for the comfort and welfare of those 
with whom he was more intimately associated. 

God does not readily allow His servants to die, but watches over them as a 
rare thing which He values and protects. " Concerning them that are asleep, 
therefore, we will sorrow not as others who have no hope; for if we believe 
that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God 
bring with him: wherefore let us comfort one another with these words." 

Resolved, That this sense of our sincere appreciation and conviction be 
entered upon our minutes, and transmitted to Mrs. Norton with assurance of 
iour deepest sympathy. 

Charles H. Pettet, 

Secretary, 

On Sunday, January 23d (third Sunday after Epiphany), the Rev. E. 
A. Penick, Rector of Ascension Church, Frankfort, delivered a Memo- 
rial Sermon, from which we make selections. After speaking in words 
of great earnestness of the loss of so good a man, he said : 

For twenty-three years he was the laborious and faithful Rector of this 
Parish. Of his earlier life we have had time and opportunity of gathering 
but little. I am told that it was the intention of our departed friend and 
brother, in the first budding of his noble manhood, to spend his life at sea, 
but was deterred from doing so by the grief and flowing tears of an affec- 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

tionate mother. He was ordained by Bishop De Lancy, in 1844, in the Diocese 
of Western New York, where he remained for two years as Assistant Rector of 
a Church in Rochester. From Rochester he came to Frankfort, and entered 
upon the work here December 6, 1846. He was then a young man of about 
twenty -six years of age. You, perhaps the older of you, I am sure, know 
better than I do the condition of the Church here at the time of the young 
Minister's arrival. He told me himself, if I remember correctly, that when 
he came among you there were not more than two dozen members, and these 
very much disheartened and scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd. 
But John N. Norton was not the man to be discouraged or to despise the 
day of small things. Penetrating the future, as it were, with his bright eye of 
faith, he seemed to realize that a great door, and effectual, was opened unto 
him in this modern Corinth, and he went to work with heart, hand, and 
brain to bring about a manifestation of that which he seemed to have real- 
ized. God blessed the words of his faithful servant, answered his^prayers, 
and crowned his efforts with so much success that it became necessary in the 
fourth year of his pastorate to begin the erection of a larger Church edifice in 
order to accommodate the rapidly-increasing congregation. The corner-stone 
upon which it was to be reared was laid by Bishop Smith, August 8, 1850, and 
the building having been completed, was consecrated by him August 12, 1852. 
The congregation, under the faithful administration of our lamented brother, 
continued to increase year after year, until at length it grew to such a size that 
he and his Bishop thought it advisable to enlarge the Church, which resulted 
in the spacious and handsome building in which we worship today. 

During his pastorate here from December 6, 1846, to August 1, 1870, Dr. 
Norton baptized twenty-one hundred and fifty-two infants and adults; he 
prepared and presented for confirmation nine hundred and eight candidates; 
he married one hundred and fifty-eight couples, and buried four hundred and 
thirty-two persons. But brethren, these figures give you but a faint conception 
of the magnitude of the man's work while he went in and out among you 
during the long years of his ministry here. There is no earthly record of one 
fiftieth part of the work which John N. Norton did in this city, but it 
is recorded in the Paradise of God, whither his pure spirit has gone to rest. 
The thousands of visits that he made to the bedsides of the sick and dying, 
and the earnest prayers which he offered in their behalf, are entered upon no 
church register, but they are entered upon the pages of that Book in which 
the great scribe of Heaven recordeth the deeds of men. His manner and 
style of presenting the truth was different from that of most preachers. Fol- 
lowing the example of his Master, he dealt largely in illustrations, for the 
applying of which he seems to have possessed no ordinary gift. He says, 
in the preface of the last volume of Sermons he published, which was just 
a few months before his death, that "in sending forth this sixth volume of 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 

plain Sermons, the author congratulates himself in belonging to the class of 
Preachers who, by their communication in a humble and low way, have in- 
structed and helped more men on their heavenly journey than the Preachers 
famous for their profound thought and eloquence of style." "And/' continues 
he, the " writer rejoices that he has not reached the high standard of the met- 
ropolitan pulpit, since the very purpose for which his publications are designed 
would thus have been most effectually defeated." That Dr. Norton possessed 
a well-furnished mind, no one who was ever in conversation with him for a 
few moments would doubt. There was no abode of poverty or misery or 
sorrow to which he did not bend his willing steps. It has been my privilege 
of late to devote much time in going in and out among the more poverty- 
stricken class in our midst. But brethren, I have yet to enter the first haunt 
of poverty or hovel of despair in this city into which my great predecessor 
has not gone before me. And what is more remarkable still, is the fact that 
although his broad field in Louisville, which he has cultivated for the last 
eleven years with so much care and success, would seem to all human judg- 
ment to have occupied every moment of his precious time, he did yet up 
to the week that he was stricken down, remember with affection the members 
of his old Parish, and administer to the wants of the poorer of them from his 
own private purse. There were few mails that came from our neighboring 
city to the postoffice of Frankfort that did not bring in them some token of 
remembrance to some member of this Parish from its dear old faithful Rector. 

I know that the dictates of natural reason and the promptings of our own 
hearts, sad with bereavement, are wont to murmur and say that his summons 
came too soon. But not so, dear brethren, it came at the right time. Life 
is not to be measured by the days and months one survives, but by that which 
he accomplishes 

It is not mere animal existence extended through a given period that 
makes life, but the thoughts we think, the emotion we feel, and the work we 
accomplish. Measured by this standard, surely the life of our dear brother 
was a long one, and he needed that rest upon which he has triumphantly 
entered. 

The Kentucky Church Chronicle contained in its February number 
the following just and loving tribute: 

Dr. Norton was a man of very strong mind and pure heart. He lived for 
duty, not for self. Though of a retiring disposition, few men were ever better 
known or more honored than he. He was a man of weak constitution, but of 
a mighty will and indefatigable in labors. He was the author of many vol- 
umes of books adapted to the great end for which he lived. His published 
sermons are contained in seven volumes, which have been extensively used by 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D. D. 



lay readers and families in the destitute places of this country, and have been 
highly recommended for this use by the Bishops and Clergy. In 1872 he 
published a sprightly and entertaining volume entitled Sketches, Literary and 
Theological, and shortly afterward two volumes of sermons to children. His 
sermons have brought many into the Church. 

Dr. Norton was always ready to preach, and often preached three times on 
Sundays and on other days in the week. If he ever failed to keep an engage- 
ment it was because of some providential hindrance. He was systematic in 
his work and punctual to the minute, and in consequence was able to do an 
almost incredible amount of labor. He was a great reader. He mastered 
the new and valuable books relating to his profession, and kept up with the 
literature of the day. His preaching was pointed and brief. He used few 
words, and those so plain that none could misunderstand his meaning or grow 
weary of his sermons. His hearers grew more in love with him, and desired 
to hear him again. I have heard him for many years, and never known him 
to repeat a sermon, so extensive were his resources and so diligent his labors. 

Dr. Norton was often elected to fill the most honorable offices of the 
Diocese. He has been on the Standing Committee, and for nine years was a 
Deputy to the General Convention. He never sought for positions of honor, 
because his mind was fully absorbed in his ministerial work. 

I come now to speak more particularly of the graces that adorned this 
most extraordinary man. First I place on record his meekness. Knowing 
him for thirty years I never knew him to utter a rash or angry word. Meek- 
ness is a rare grace in men of strong will. He carried his cross daily in a life 
of self-sacrifice until the cross became to him a second nature. His life was a 
day dream of visions of poverty to be -relieved, of sinners to be converted, 
and back-sliders to be reclaimed. He so loved the poor in their poverty that 
their moral failings were no barrier to his kindness. Any man, however poor 
in this world's goods, might approach him without ceremony and find a friend. 
No labor was too hard, no sacrifice too great that he might serve his Master 
and brethren in Christ. Duties and labors in regular course occupied his 
whole time. For these he relinquished to a great extent social pleasures, and 
was seldom if ever at sumptuous entertainments. He was happy at home 
with his family, and loved to teach his daughter how to live and be happy. 
He kept up an extensive correspondence and continued his pastoral care over 
many who had migrated to new countries. To these he sent tracts and papers 
and books, accompanied by letters of good advice. His letters were as brief 
and pointed as his sermons. Whoever once gained his frier dship never lost 
it, except for deserting his Master, Christ. He devoted largely of his wealth 
to charity. The poor of Louisville have lost in him a benefactor never before 
equaled. In all his charitable works his dear wife was a liberal, zealous, unos- 
entatious helper. They were both of one mind in the work. His labors had 

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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 

for a long time been too great for his strength, but whether strong or weak 
he felt he must do what he had undertaken. Sunday, January the 9th he 
preached twice, and made a memoranda in his little book of visitations to the 
sick to be made next day. He went home from Church that Sunday night 
sick with the disease of which he died. He felt that his ministry might be 
near its close, and after dictating and signing letters of apology for duties he 
could not perform he resigned himself to the will of the Lord. 

His funeral was as notable as his life. The day was stormy, but the 
Church was crowded with men and women of every color, age, and condi- 
tion. The Rabbi and Israelite, the Nothingarian and members of every de- 
nomination were there, and all met with one purpose, to honor the memory 
of the man who had consecrated himself and all he had a loving sacrifice 
to Christ. 

No address was made, for it was felt that words could not add to the 
beauty of the burial service, nor adequately express the appreciation in which 
all held the man who lived for God and walked with Him. 

W. C. 



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REV. JOHN NICHOLAS NORTON, D.D. 



IN MEMORIAM. 

The birds that once so gaily sang 

Till earth with joyous echoes rang, 

Now seem to trill a sad refrain, 

Which says, "He n'er will come again," 

And hopes, like flowers, once sweet and bright 

Lie crushed and scentless, out of sight. 

Now joyless, cheerless dawns the day, 
Wearily pass the hours away. 
With sadden'd aspect night draws nigh, 
And winds in mournful cadence sigh, 
While stars that shone so pure and clear 
Are hidden now by many a tear. 

Ah yes, sad earth, bow low thy head, 
And weep in silence o'er thy dead ! 
O'er him who brighten'd for a while 
With tender word and loving smile 
Thy darkest nooks, and to thy poor 
Was as a refuge ever sure. 

With helping hand and Christ-like love 
He taught sad hearts to look above, 
And struggling thro' this night of gloom 
To look beyond the dreary tomb — 
Beyond their wretched lives of woe, 
To where "the living waters flow." 

Full many a home once cheerless, bare, 
Grew lovely 'neath his tender care ; 
Full many a bloom his plantings bore, 
Where nought but weeds had sprung before ; 
Full many a soil once hard and sere 
Was softened by his kindly tear. 

And fallen ones! poor, lone, heart-broken, 
To whom no pitying word was spoken 
Till he drew near to give new hope 
And bid the "fainting soul look up," 
And grateful eyes with age grown dim 
Have bent their last fond look on him. 

Philosophers have lived their day, 
Great poets, statesmen, passed away ; 
And written on the scroll of fame 
Each one essayed to leave his name ; 
But far above this toil and strife 
His name is in the book of life. 

GOLDSBOROUGH. 

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